Malaria is a serious (sometimes fatal) disease that is spread by mosquitoes who have been infected by a parasite. The disease is spread when mosquitoes feed on humans.
Found mostly in warmer climates, malaria breeds where there is an abundance of humidity and rain.
Malaria exists in 109 countries around the world, making 3.3. billion people (half of the world population) susceptible to the disease.
About 90 percent of malaria-related deaths occur south of the Sahara in Africa. The majority of these are children under the age of 5.
In the U.S., 1,500 cases of malaria are found every year.
Common side effects of malaria are high fever, chills, headache, and other flu-like symptoms. Severe illness and death can normally be avoided if the disease is properly treated.
An infected person may start feeling symptoms anywhere from a week to a month after they are bitten. With some rarer forms of malaria, the parasite remains dormant and an infected person will not become ill for up to 4 years.
In 2010, 216 million clinical cases of malaria were recorded worldwide. 655,000 cases were fatal; 86 percent of those were children.
Pregnant women are extremely vulnerable to malaria. If the disease is contracted during pregnancy, it can be passed to the infant or result in low birth weight, which decreases the baby’s chance of survival.
Though most cases exist in countries where malaria is readily transmitted, the disease can also be contracted by traveling to an endemic country. Travelers coming from areas without malaria often have no immunity and are very vulnerable to the illness. Prevention is possible if you visit your primary care physician.
Malaria is not a contagious disease. It cannot be contracted through contact with an infected person, sexually or otherwise.
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